Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's November 27, 2016 Letter

The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge--who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group's newsletter 

 “November 27, 2016

“Dear Comrades,

“I am devastated, like all of you.

“We knew Fidel had to die someday but hoped he wouldn’t.

“But what a history! What an inspiration and what guts. And what achievements in health and education, all free from the cradle to the grave. Cuba became a world leader in cancer research and sent humanitarian missions to 68 countries, trained more than 1800 doctors under a free scholarship scheme, hundreds of them in East Timor, and treated free of charge some 26,000 victims of the Chernobyl disaster, most of them children. Fidel ‘liberated’ large tracts of land to small farmers, did away with private beaches, closed casinos, halved rents and outlawed racial discrimination, and became a world leader in environmentally sound policies.

“Fidel and his revolutionary band had to start from scratch, slowly building a new society, with eleven presidents in a row using every dirty trick in the book to bring them down, including invasions, bombings, biological warfare, an illegal blockade that has cost Cuba more than 89 billion dollars - 80% of which involved food and medicines - and had 638 goes at bumping off Fidel. Washington failed.

“Fidel Castro became one of the most notable political figures of the 20th century. His Revolution created the Cuban nation, transforming a small Caribbean island into a player on the world stage. Under his leadership Cubans ‘stood tall’ against the most powerful nation on earth and gave them back their pride and dignity. Close to all Third World leaders, Fidel was the only political figure apart from Nelson Mandela welcomed by a younger generation of activists.

“Commercialized Christmas has landed on our doorsteps even earlier than usual and Donald Trump has landed on the world stage. As someone said, it will get worse before it gets worse. And when the US gets a cold we get double pneumonia.

“In 2016, the US presented the public with the two most detested candidates in history. No wonder more than 40% of voters declined to vote. In the wash-up, the moneyed thug beat the natural born killer who believes that a dousing of cruise tomahawk missiles on recalcitrant countries was good diplomacy, a continuation of her pact with husband Bill. The duo advanced their way through the political jungle by speaking Left and acting Right, leaving a legacy of mass incarceration, perpetual war and regime change. From Christopher Hitchens: ‘She and her husband haven’t met a foreign political donor they don’t like and haven’t taken from.’

“Washington isn’t about to be ruled by Nazis (yet) - although fascist tendencies are certainly present - but by Reactionary Republicans, which is quite bad enough. I hope that the hysterical opposition will not stuff up the few Trump positives, the desire to do business with Putin rather than foment war and putting an end to the loathsome TPPI trade deal, if he can get away with it.

“The entire election campaign focused on personal attacks rather than dealing with serious political issues like the underclass who live in towns ravaged by de-industrialization with banks and stores boarded up, factories closed down and all the decent jobs long gone. Many work up to 70 hours a week at three minimum-wage jobs. Or they have no jobs at all, fueling alcoholism, drug addiction, suicides, racism and the poison of white supremacy.

“And now we’re being assailed by ‘fake news’ or ‘post truth’ where false stories are being deliberately planted throughout our media, as if the bastards don’t lie enough. Facebook and Google are already agreeing to ‘filter out content’. Censorship?

“Peter Koenig writes about a serious issue I don’t recall reading about: ‘A few weeks ago’, he said, the UN kicked Russia out of its Human Rights Commission. The first time in history that a member of the UN Security Council was voted out.’

“Russia’s crime? ‘Bombing hospitals and civilians in Syria and supporting the atrocities of the Assad regime’, when it is the US, NATO and Washington’s Gulf puppets responsible for the devastation in the Middle East.

“And on November 15, a UN special committee condemned Russia’s ‘temporary occupation of Crimea’, a motion carried by 73 to 23 with 76 abstentions that will inevitably be adopted by the 193-member assembly. Most know the truth that the US instigated the coup d’etat in Ukraine, but won’t say a word.

“And then last Thursday I received an email from ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver outlining Turnbull’s latest vicious onslaught on the trade union movement. At 2am the government sneakily rammed through the Registered Organizations Bill, setting up yet another costly commission to further bugger up the work of the trade union movement. Headed by god knows who, our unions will be subjected to a restrictive regime of regulations and fines that could bankrupt ordinary union volunteers just for downing tools if their workplace is unsafe.

“Human history, as Karl Marx said, is defined by class struggle, but today’s psychopathic rulers have been clever by fusing the two major parties into a single corporate entity that has seized control of the whole box and dice, the parliaments, the judiciary, universities, finance and almost all forms of communication, with every facet of our lives controlled by the corporates.

“There is no way you can fight these forces with petitions, rallies and the polling booth when even the few tepid avenues open to us have been whittled down. ‘Democracy’ as it’s defined today, is a sham that cannot be regulated, reformed or corrected. The only way forward is to become part of a genuine socialist movement to stand up to and demolish the corporate state before it demolishes us and our fragile world.

“Vale Fidel! Hasta Siempre Dear Comandante! Viva Cuba!

“Joan Coxsedge” 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's November 1, 2016 Letter

The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge--who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group's newsletter  

“November 1, 2016

“Dear Comrades,

“I can’t think of a better beginning than pinching a few lines from Leunig: ‘How nice it is to sit and see the bombs exploding on TV. The war, the smoke, the refugees While we sip our herbal teas; The special death squad on patrol The building with the gaping hole The wailing wounded and the dead It must be almost time for bed. Time to put an end to war It’s what remote controls are for. Peace at last at any price Oh it’s nice, it’s nice, it’s nice.’

“Leunig’s response to our indifference to horror matched by our indifference to wholesale corruption and nastiness. While rich foreigners with money (usually ill-gotten) can fly in and stay in, the door has been slammed shut against the most desperate and while the world’s CO2 levels surge past a terrifying 400ppm, Turnbull lickspittles are planning to ban legal challenges to the big polluters.

“Dodgy Family First MP Bob Day whose dodgy company Home Australia has been liquidated has resigned - again - from the Senate after initially planning to stick around to vote for the government’s anti-union building industry and same sex marriage bills. Day had put out a handbook called The Sales Doctor about ‘trust’ between salesmen and customers while rooking hundreds of families who ‘trusted’ him. If it wasn’t so awful it would be funny, although sometimes you just can’t help laughing.

“One of the more incongruous sights at the Melbourne Cup, pardon me, Emirates Melbourne Cup, was the National Anthem sung by an Asian woman in Asian dress! A dreary song. I much prefer Waltzing Matilda.

“But no worries. George Brandis is still the Attorney-General, Joe Hockey’s snout remains deep in the trough, asinine Barnaby Joyce continues to embarrass and crooked developers (are there any others?) are hit with a wet lettuce leaf when their outrages are more outrageous than usual.

“And let’s not forget Turnbull’s seriously stupid former Trade Minister Robb who signed dud trade deals and now has a job with one of his Chinese principals. Sickening.

“Like the outrageous assaults on health workers. Almost every hour they are bitten, spat at, punched, abused or threatened while trying to care for patients. Same nasty stats for ambos and fire fighters.

“In the bigger scheme of things, Americans are shortly going to the polls, surely the most bizarre campaign in living memory. A freak show.

“Trump is loathed by Washington’s power-brokers, not because of his obnoxious behavior and opinions, but because in his more lucid moments he’s expressed reservations about going to war with Russia, whereas Clinton has form, lots of it, and is strongly supported by Wall Street Oligarchs and the mega-banks. She backed the Iraqi bloodbath, threatened to obliterate Iran, colluded in the destruction of Libya and has currently pledged to support a No Fly Zone in Syria, with the prospect of provoking war with Russia.

“Trump is an oddball adolescent in an old body, but at least he’s not a neocon or intent on regime change in countries that resist US domination, unlike his rival. The fact that he’s unhinged doesn’t mean his message contains no significant truths, that many communities have been devastated by neoliberal globalization where manufacture has gone belly-up leaving behind poverty and despair and growing inequality. “Many Trump supporters say they ‘just want to shake things up.’ They’ve certainly done that.

“In yet another strange twist, the FBI is now scouring through some 650,000 emails on Clinton aide husband’s laptop allegedly related to a private server used by Hillary Clinton as part of a separate ‘sexting’ probe.

“Without any evidence, Clinton has accused Russia of supporting Trump and hacking her emails. WikiLeaks tells us something else again, that what she says in private to the rich and powerful is the complete opposite of what she says to mug punters.

“If, as I suspect, Clinton wins the election, we will be assailed by a full symphony about her ascension being ‘a giant step forward for women’. Tell that to the Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian women whose lives have been destroyed by her policies. And ask desperate Palestinian women why she ardently supports Israel and ignores their plight, women forced to live under military rule, where Israel controls everything. Who can work and who cannot, who can travel and who cannot, who can visit and who cannot and who ends up in jail and who does not. With every breath, these women and their families breathe in occupation.

“But Israel is a US ally like Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive, where there is no freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, no political parties, no unions, where dissent is treated as treason, where you can be beheaded for insulting Islam, for insulting the King, for being an atheist or a homosexual. 158 executions last year. Women are segregated and not only forced to fully cover themselves in public, but they’re not allowed to drive, are banned from most jobs and need a male guardian from birth to death.

“Saudi Arabia has become by far the biggest purchaser of US weapons, $115 billion worth of deals under Obama alone, currently being deployed against poverty-stricken Yemen, attacking its power and water purification plants, its schools and factories.

“After all that, we need another touch of Leunig, even though he’s very unhappy with our world: ‘It is Spring And man has ruined everything; Everything he touches, Everything that falls into his clutches, Politicians clutch at lies and get elected. I’m not represented or dejected. What are leaders for? They all believe in war; The mess of lies. Power is a curse. The lies they tell themselves are worse. I am represented by a bird. That builds a nest and has not heard The rotten lies. It sings and represents me as it flies.’


“Joan Coxsedge, “

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton's 1990's White House Years Revisited: Part 3

If 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is elected on November 8, 2016 to become first wife of a former U.S. president to win a U.S. presidential election, and she moves into the White House for four years on January 20, 2017, it won't be the first time that Clinton will be occupying the White House. As she recalled in her 2003 book Living History (for which she was paid more than $10 million in book advance and book royalties by the Viacom-CBS media conglomerate's Simon and Schuster book publishing subsidiary): 

"Webb [Hubbell] had resigned from from his job at the Justice Department...In his own memoir, Friends in High Places, Webb [Hubbell]...admits that the charges against him were true and that he had stolen from the [Rose] law firm in a futile attempt to get out from under a crippling debt that he had hidden from his family and friends...Hubbell would plead guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. He confessed that between 1989 and 1992, he submitted more than 400 doctored bills to cover personal expenses, cheating his clients...at the Rose Law Firm of at least $394,000.

"...Webb [Hubbell] had been a trusted colleague...He was a dear friend. I had spent more hours in his company than I could count...In March 1995, I took my first extended trip overseas without the President...My companions included...Jan Piercy, my friend from Wellesley and U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank...In late July [1995], I began a weekly newspaper column...

"Welfare reform had been debated by Bill [Clinton]'s staff since the presidential campaign, when Bill [Clinton] promised to `end welfare as we know it.' I agreed that the system was broken and needed to be fixed...During my book tour I spoke at my alma mater, Wellesley College, on January 19, 1996, and spent the night at the gracious home of its...President...

"...Bill [Clinton] and I were anxious about our...State Dinner for French President Jacques Chirac and his wife...in February 1996...Bill [Clinton] worked hard to win French cooperation...most notably in 1999 when he persuaded France to go along with NATO air strikes...in Kosovo despite the lack of a specific U.N. resolution...The State Department had asked me to go as an emissary to Bosnia-Herzegovia...Gains on the ground by the Croat-Muslim coalition that the U.S. had helped support, coupled with the NATO airstrikes that Bill [Clinton] had advocated...forced the Serbs to negotiate...The United States had sent over 18,000...troops...

"As part of his foreign policy agenda, Bill [Clinton] supported the expansion of NATO eastward from the Atlantic...There was significant opposition to NATO expansion within the United States and Russia, which did not want to see NATO at its own borders...I spoke at Radio Free Europe headquarters...I applauded the role Radio Free Europe had played...I said that......sustaining a free society is like a three-legged stool: one leg is a...government, the second is a free market economy...I favored NATO expansion...

"...Welfare reform became a success for Bill [Clinton]. I strongly argued that we had to change the system...In 1987 and again in 1988, Bill [Clinton] was the lead Democratic governor working with...the Reagan White House on welfare reform...The third bill passed by Congress...cut off most benefits to legal immigrants, imposed a 5-year lifetime limit on federal welfare benefits, and maintained the status quo on monthly benefit limits, leaving the states free to set benefit limits...

"The President [Bill Clinton] signed this third bill into law...I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage--though he and the legislators were roundly criticized by...liberals, advocacy groups for immigrants and most people who worked with the welfare system...Bill's decision and my endorsement of it, outraged some of our...supporters...They...believed the legislation was shameful, impractical and harmful to children...By the time Bill [Clinton] and I left the White House, welfare rols had dropped 60 percent from 14.1 million to 5.8 million..."

(end of part 3)

Hillary Clinton's 1990's White House Years Revisited: Part 2

If 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is elected on November 8, 2016 to become first wife of a former U.S. president to win a U.S. presidential election, and she moves into the White House for four years on January 20, 2017, it won't be the first time that Clinton will be occupying the White House. As she recalled in her 2003 book Living History (for which she was paid more than $10 million in book advance and book royalties by the Viacom-CBS media conglomerate's Simon and Schuster book publishing subsidiary): 

"...On October 26 [1963]...the Hillaryland gang invited over a hundred of my family members and friends to come from around the country for a surprise 46th birthday party at the White House...I was ushered upstairs and told to put on a black wig and hoopskirt--the Colonial look...and an attempt to replicate the fashions worn by Dolly Madison. Then I was led down to the State Floor, where I was greeted by a dozen staffers in blond wigs...Bill [Clinton] was disguised as President James Madison (with white wig and tights)...

"On Halloween 1993,...I learned that...the Resolution Trust Corporation [RTC]...had recommended the criminal investigation of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, owned by Jim McDougal. McDougal and his wife, Susan, had been our partners in the Whitewater Development Company, Inc....RTC investigators were looking into allegations that McDougal had used his S&L to funnel money illegally to political campaigns in Arkansas, including Bill [Clinton]'s gubernatorial reelection campaign in 1986...

"...Our personal lawyer, Bob Barnett, recused himself from Whitewater because his wife, Rita Braver, was a CBS correspondent assigned to cover the White House...Bob became my counsel and adviser in 1992, and I could not have asked for a better friend in the years that followed.

"Bob recommended David Kendall, his colleague at Williams and Connolly, to represent us in the Whitewater matter...David...had experience in corporate law...He represented clients in several S. and L. investigations in the 1980's...David took over the files from Vince Foster's office...

"By the mid-1980s McDougal...had bought a small thrift called Madison Guaranty...He...used the Whiteewater Development Company to buy property near a trailer park south of Little Rock that he...named Castle Grande Estates...In 1985, Rick Massey, a young lawyer at the Rose Law Firm...worked for McDougal...Because McDougal had been negligent in paying a previous bill from Rose for legal services, the firm insisted that he pay a $2,000 monthly retainer...My partners asked me to request the retainer from McDougal and to become the `billing partner'...I arranged the retainer...Federal S. and L. regulators took over Madison Guaranty...and initiated an examination of the S. and L.'s transactions because of allegations that McDougal had engaged in a pattern of self-dealing...

"...In 1986...I asked McDougal to take our names off the [Whitewater Development Company] mortgage...Whitewater...had failed to pay property taxes...

"My brother [Tony Rodham] had...become engaged to Nicole Boxer, the daughter of Senator Barbara Boxer of California...We were planning a spring wedding [in 1994] for Tony and Nicole at the White House, so I invited Nicole, her parents and her brother, Doug [Boxer] to join us for Thanksgiving dinner at Camp David [in 1993]...

"NAFTA was ratified on December 8, 1993....As more of our financial records were released...they generated additional stories...In mid-March [1994], The New York Times ran a front-page article...The story accurately reported the profits I had made in the commodities market in 1979...Our close friend Jim Blair...was generous enough to share his expertise in trading commodities...With his help, I...turned $1,000 into $100,000 in a short time...

"...In the early spring of 1993, [Richard] Nixon...sent Bill [Clinton] a letter...Bill [Clinton] invited the former President to the White House...and Chelsea [Clinton] and I greeted him as he stepped off the elevator on the second floor...

"...Paula Corbin Jones...accused Bill Clinton of sexually harassing her by making unwanted advances...On May 6, 1994...Paula Jones filed a civil suit against the President of the United States, asking for $700,000 in damages...In early June 1994, Bill [Clinton] and I traveled to England...Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had invited us to spend the night on her royal yacht HMS Britannia...

"As we moved toward the midterm elections in November [1994], Bill [Clinton]'s political advisers assured us that the Democrats were in relatively good shape. But I was worried...I also knew that some core Democratic supporters felt disillusioned by our failure to reform health care or betrayed by the Administration's successful push for NAFTA...

"Two weeks before Election Day [in 1994], Bill [Clinton] and I took a brief break...and traveled to the Middle East...And I celebrated my 47th birthday...On October 26 [1994], I saw the Pyramids at Giza in the morning light, and...President Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, hosted a birthday breakfast, complete with cake, in a dining room overlooking the Sphinx.

"Hosni and Suzanne Mubarak are an impressive couple...Like other Arab leaders whom I have met, Mubarak recognizes the dilemma he faces in governing...

"I began my schedule Election Day [in November 1994] much as I would any other...Bill [Clinton] and I...wanted to be alone as we absorbed the election returns...The Democrats lost 8 Senate seats and an astounding 54 seats in the House--ushering in the first Republican majority since the Eisenhower administration. Democratic incumbents were routed everywhere...Defeated and disappointed, I wondered how much I was to blame for the debacle..." 

(end of part 2)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton's 1990's White House Years Revisited: Part 1

If 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is elected on November 8, 2016 to become first wife of a former U.S. president to win a U.S. presidential election, and she moves into the White House for four years on January 20, 2017, it won't be the first time that Clinton will be occupying the White House. As she recalled in her 2003 book Living History (for which she was paid more than $10 million in book advance and book royalties by the Viacom-CBS media conglomerate's Simon and Schuster book publishing subsidiary): 

"...Throughout the [1993] inaugural festivities, Bill [Clinton] received security briefings...He was already shifting his attention...to news of U.S. planes that were bombing Iraq...The [Secret] Service uses code names for its protectees...Bill [Clinton] became `Eagle,' I was `Evergreen.'...

"...I wanted to put our personal stamp on the White House...I hired Walter Scheib, an experienced chef...In early February [1993], Bill [Clinton] and I invited Vince Foster, now Deputy White House Counsel; Bruce Lindsey, also in the Counsel's office and still one of Bill [Clinton]'s closest advisers and traveling companion; and Webb Hubbell, Associate Attorney General, to a...dinner in the second-floor dining room...Bruce, Vince and Webb were among my closest friends...I can still close my eyes and see Vince at that table...

"On January 25 [1993], Bill [Clinton] invited me...to lunch in the President's small study near the Oval Office...and our old friend Ira Magaziner,a...business consultant...Ira...had private sector experience as the owner of a consulting business in Rhode Island that advised multinational companies on how to become...profitable...

"...As the wife of a...President, I didn't have to worry about my family's access to health care...Bill [Clinton] announced that I would chair a newly formed President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform...Several of Bill [Clinton]'s key lieutenants heartily endorsed the idea, including [then-Goldman Sachs executive] Robert Rubin, Chairman of the National Economic Council and later Secretary of the Treasury. One of my favorite people in the administration, [former-Goldman Sachs executive] Bob [Rubin] is fabulously...successful...

"...Bill [Clinton]...had won the [1992] election...with less than a majority of the popular vote--43 percent...Bill [Clinton]...rejected the single-payer and Medicare models, preferring a quasi-private system...that relied on private market forces...

"In...Yugoslavia...I was disgusted by the failure of the United Nations to intervene...I was convinced that the only way to stop...genocide in Bosnia was through...air strikes against Serbian targets...Bill [Clinton] met with his advisers to consider American involvement...

"...On July 20 [1993]...Vince Foster was dead; it looked like a suicide...Bernie Nussbaum...had been with Vince the morning of his death...Two days after Vince's death, Bernie Nussbaum went to Vince's office and, with representatives from the Justice Department and the FBI, reviewed every document there...In the course of this first search, Bernie discovered that Vince had stored in his office some files containing work he had done for Bill [Clinton] and me when he was our attorney in Little Rock, including files that had to do with the land deal called Whitewater. Bernie gave these files to Maggie Williams; and, soon after, they were transferred to the office of Bob Barnett, our private attorney in Washington...

"...By late August [1993], [then-Treasury Secretary Lloyd] Bentsen, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and economic adviser [former Goldman Sachs Director] Bob Rubin were adamant about postpoining health care reform and moving forward with the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. They believed that...NAFTA warranted immediate action and creating a free trade zone in North America...would...create jobs..."

(end of part 1)